Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

But what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light & hast thou walked in the Light, & what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God? ~ George Fox.

One of the books that has profoundly shaped the way I think & the way I view the world is this one: Thee, Hannah by Marguerite De Angeli. Yes, it is a kiddies book. There is nothing complicated or difficult about it in the least. The story line is very basic. Even the illustrations, which I loved as a child, are rather two dimensional & flat but... it is a profound but. The questions this little book raise are some of the ones that still plague me today.

There is the outward journey & people who have shared along the way may turn to you with utmost surprise & say, "But it wasn't like that at all!" That is to deny the inward & parallel journey which may be very different indeed. Thee, Hannah is part of my inward journey. Here I first met the idea of personally connecting with God, as opposed to a minister interceding. [Not what my mother's church taught but no~one I knew talked about listening to God. They talked about prayer & what to say to God but not how to listen, not how to hear, not how to know if it was God at all.] Here I first ran into the idea that to be distinctive might serve a greater purpose than eccentricity of being. Here I ran into the idea that non~violence did not equate with passivity.

So here is Hannah, youngest child in a large Quaker family who hankers after the things of the world: the pretty dresses, the fancy pantaloons & most of all the pretty, fashionable bonnets. She hates her plain Quaker bonnet. Don't misunderstand. I get Hannah completely on this one. An uglier contraption for the head I have rarely met!

Now the Quaker bonnet served multiple purposes. It acted as a covering at a time when most women still covered their heads, & certainly in public. It served to distinguish Quakers from non~Quakers. It was a public rebuke against worldliness & vanity. It let others know that one held to certain basic principles. It also told runaway slaves that here was a person who would help. It is in helping a runaway slave that Hannah learns the deeper meaning & purpose of her plain, ugly bonnet.

But here's the thing: there has been a steady movement within the church body to make itself more accessible to the world by aligning itself with the world. It has not made itself more accessible. It has simply blurred the lines until it is impossible to tell who is a Christian & who is not by simply looking. And we have done this despite what scripture says: Come out from among them : be not yoked unequally with unbelievers [yes, I know most people interpret it as to do with marriage but think about it...] ; a peculiar people...hordes of scriptures talk about Christians are to be different, to stand out from the culture around them, to hold to different [Godly] standards, to be salt & light to the world around them. They are meant to be distinctive.

Now you may think it doesn't really matter ~ & perhaps it doesn't ~ but consider this. When the Amish shootings took place in 2006 the world watched in awe the Amish response to their tragedy. No one was in any doubt that this was a Christian community. Nor was any one left in doubt that their act of forgiveness arose from their Christian beliefs. No~one was preaching anything. They simply were. Or there is the testimony of Skeet Savage ~ Founder of Wisdom's Gate, who talks of being threatened late at night in a shopping mall by a gang of thugs, who desisted when one of the boys noticed their coverings & decided that "God would get them" if they hurt His people.

I'm not *dresses only*. For me, dresses are impractical & immodest. I do not necessarily think dress should be *Plain*. After all, God adores colour & pomp. Just look at how He outfitted the temple & garbed His priests! I understand that dress does not necessarily reflect a heart that is right with God. I still think the questions are worth asking. What does God require of me? For one it will be a cape dress & covering. For another, pants & tunic. And then there are the Christies of the world. About to approach a company director for an exorbitant amount of money she splurged on the prettiest, fanciest hat in the Milliner's shop window & won her cause!

Our dress says something very profound about who we are. I learnt this the hard way because I don't have a fashionable bone in my body & am perfectly content to paddle round in clothing I have owned for half a century. I rarely even look in a mirror so when I felt the Lord's leading to plonk a bit of cloth on my head [long story & nothing to do with submission to my husband, poor man] I was quite able to ignore how peculiar it looked with a salwar kameeze, or jeans & T. I never thought about it but it was there & reminded me of the thing I wore it for. However, you better bet others noticed & commented! Not to me. People were a little shy but they were bailing Liddy up in the shop going: "So what religion does your mother belong to?" Liddy took great delight in evangelizing to them! Now I have come to expect that the hurting of this world who would never set foot in church will approach me at the shops or on the jetty & pour out their grieving hearts to me. They feel free to ask the big questions: Do you believe in life after death? Do all religions lead to God? And sometimes they say rather wistfully, " I used to go to church, you know. I still read my bible..." Now I just have to remember to act in accordance with my calling!


Amanda said...

Again, I enjoyed this post and your thoughts Ganeida. There are some challenging things in there that I have been mulling over myself.

I must say I have not heard of the 'Christies'. Who was she??

I remember well the Amish tradegy and the Godly way in which they responded. It has to be a loud testimony to the world doesn't it??! I am sure this touched the hearts of many, many people because we can all understand the pain they must have felt at loosing a child/ren. Yet, they forgave without reservation. That spoke volumes to me and I am sure it did to the nations of the world.

Ganeida said...

Amanda: I have gone back in & linked to a site. Christy was Catherine Marshell's mother & the fictional book of the same name is based on her experiences as a missionary school teacher in the Smokey Mountains. I'm pretty sure the incident I refer to is fact. If it isn't it should be. ☺

seekingmyLord said...

My husband did not like the idea of having the ichthys symbol on our car, which is quite common here in the states, because he did not want his driving to be a bad reflection on God, but we won one in a draw at our church so now we do have one. However, that is the responsibility that goes along with dress and other symbolism that distinguishes one's beliefs: to live your life as a witness of those beliefs.

Perhaps I am not that brave...?

Persuaded said...

Ahh Linda, I know exactly what you mean! I still don't have one of those symbols on my car, or any of the other nifty bumper stickers and such that are available, and for just the reasons you and your husband have. Weirdly enough however, I wear only dresses and skirts and cover my head. I think folks assume that I have made these choices out of a concern for modesty… and while modesty is partially my motivation it is by no means my main one. Let’s be honest: at my age and with my physique, the sight of me in skimpy attire is much more likely to incite hysterical laughter rather than inflame lust;-)

Anyhoo..I made my clothing changes about 7 or 8 yrs ago when I was part of an internet community that strongly advocated “dresses-only.” There was a lot of discussion about the subject, a lot of Bible-verse-throwing around and lots of talk about how women wearing pants were an abomination. Pants were seen as unwaveringly immodest. I really couldn’t get on board with the whole thing. The scripture that was quoted didn’t seem particularly relevant to me. I wholeheartedly agree however, that dressing in a manner that is singularly feminine honors God and is an expression of gratitude and obedience to Him. So that is a big part of my motivation for wearing only dresses, but it’s not what finally moved me to make a change in my dress.

There was actually a particular incident that made me decide to change my dress. It was the testimony of a woman I had know for years… a wonderful Godly older woman who I greatly admired in the Lord. She told about how as a young woman she had been caught up in a lifestyle of drugs and prostitution and how at her lowest point, she was reduced to homelessness and saw no other choice but suicide. She took refuge from a rainstorm in a shopping mall and was wandering around in near total despair. She said that she kept thinking, “If only I knew how to pray; I know God would help me.” But she didn’t know how to pray and she didn’t know anyone who did. Then she caught sight of a woman in a long sort of dress, dark and modest, her head covered. And she thought, “That looks like a woman who knows how to pray!”

She followed the woman into a store and the woman- God bless her- took her into a dressing room and prayed with her. I don’t remember if she surrendered her life to the Lord on that day or not, but I do know that that woman showed her Jesus and led her to Him. My eyes fill with tears every time I think of that story… and I am teary even now. You see, this is why I dress the way that I do… I want to “look like a woman who knows how to pray.” I want my appearance to just scream that I know Jesus. That’s the main reason why I've made the clothing choices I have♥

So there ya go... more than you wanted to know about me and my clothes;-D

Ganeida said...

Seeking: I so understand. I hate the thought of being conspicious because sooner or later I'm bound to screw up, that being the nature of things & while I don't care so much for myself I cring at bringing disrepute on my Lord.

Diane: You really have to blog that! That illustrates my point beautifully! What a wonderfull story.

joyfulmum said...

Good post Ganeida....just wondering if you're going to share why you wear a head covering with us? :)

Ganeida said...

joyfulmum: I will e~mail you. ☺

Ember said...

Nooooo Ganeida! Share it here! I want to read it too!

I loved that story about the lady looking for someone to pray with her.

What I am finding is that all the reasons come to me secondary. There is something deep and primitive and visceral and irrational in me that is a convincement beneath the level of mind.

When I read the quotation from George Fox and saw the picture from 'Thee, Hannah', at the top of the post, it was as though my heart suddenly got bigger inside my ribcage. There's no 'why' about it, it just does!

Ganeida said...

Ember: Bottom line ~ I do as I feel led & this tend to be a gut reaction with me also. Often I can't give a good reason ~ but then plenty before me have been fools for Christ so I figure I'm in good company. ☺